Motivating the Middle: Fighting Apathy in College Student Organizations (book review)

February 17, 2012

Combating apathy can be one of the most challenging aspects of leading or advising a student organization. The book Motivating the Middle: Fighting Apathy in College Student Organizations by T. J. Sullivan aims to offer concrete solutions for this often reoccuring problem on our campuses. T.J.’s premise is that there are three different types of student organization members: the Top-Third; the Middle-Third; and the Bottom-Third. The “Top-Third” are your organization superstars that participate in everything and are high achievers. The “Bottom-Third” members, on the other hand, are those individuals who are doing the bare minimum, if that, in terms of organization involvement.

T.J. suggests that student leaders concentrate on developing those “Middle-Third” members who are not the stellar achievers, but who do indeed participate and engage more than the “Bottom-Third” individuals. They may simply be involved in other activities, have other responsibilities, or just simply want to be involved under their own terms. By developing these particular members, the organization can benefit from increased participation and renewed vigor.

The book is 64 pages in length and is easily readable in under an hour’s time. Where many student life leadership instructors miss the mark by offering theory-dense texts that may be largely academic and undigestible for student leaders, Motivating the Middle is a leadership resource that offers concrete solutions for solving organization member apathy. This book is not only appropriate for students, but for student life professionals as well. I highly recommend this book as a text for any type of leadership course your campus offers or as an appropriate resource to include during organization board training.

The book is available for purchase on Amazon.com by clicking HERE. For bulk purchases of 20 or more books, contact T.J. Sullivan at sullivan@campuspeak.com and mention “StudentLifeGuru” to receive 20% off the list price. The first 50 people to share this post on Twitter by clicking below will be entered into a raffle to win a signed copy of T.J.’s book.


140 Characters: A Style Guide for the Short Form (book review)

November 3, 2011

In 2009, one of the founders of Twitter, Dom Sagolla (@Dom), wrote the book 140 Characters: A Style Guide for the Short Form. This is a fun little read that not only has a sense of humor, but is also practical for those who are new to or are veterans of the Twitterverse.

The book is broken up in five parts (Lead, Value, Master, Evolve, and Accelerate) and 19 separate chapters. The titles of the chapters serve as snippets of advice themselves and is a nod to Strunk and White’s Elements of Style (you may remember this from high school or college composition or English). Here are a few examples:

  • Simplify: Say More with Less
  • Avoid: Don’t Become a Fable about Too Much Information
  • Reach: Understand Your Audience
  • Mention: Stamp Your Own Currency
  • Open: Give and You Shall Receive
  • Increase: Do More
  • Fragment: Do It Smaller

As is the case with many of the “self-help” Twitter books that I have read, 140 Characters comes complete with a short history of the founding of Twitter, practical tips, and recommended individuals to follow.

This is a nice resource for both professors and student affairs professionals alike. It is a short read (179 pages) that can be completed in one sitting and applied to various student learning applications, such as networking (career services), composition and writing (English / poetry / creative writing) and communication skills (leadership development / Greek Life / Residence Life / clubs & organizations).

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Career & Leadership Resource: “Business Fitness” (Book Review)

April 26, 2011

Recently I made the acquaintance of a business blogger on Twitter (@businessfit) who offers remarkable content related to business development, leadership, organizational development, and employee supervision. She shared a book with me that she had published called Business Fitness.

Business Fitness is written by Dawn Lennon, an expert in organizational development and business coaching. Lennon defines being “business fit” by “developing intellectual strength and steady nerves so that you are positioned to handle any circumstances at anytime, anywhere” (p. 7). The book is divided into four parts: Business Fitness, Private Moves, Public Moves, and Lifelong Success. Each chapter comes complete with thought-provoking “do-it-yourself” inventories to complete to help you on the way to better define personal and professional goals related to career moves and entrepreneurship.

Business Fitness is written in a format in the conversational style of a thoughtful coach. It captures the essence of John Maxwell’s leadership and teamwork books. Although the book is is geared toward entrepreneurs, it is also appropriate for goal-minded achievers and leaders of all types. While the book does not illustrate how to incorporate a business or other operational means by which to run a business (i.e., taxes, insurance, etc.), it does coach the reader how to prepare to become a leader within your chosen career. The book is rife with inspirational quotes throughout each chapter and also includes stories of success and shortcomings of individuals to illustrate the ideas taught.

I recommend Business Fitness for all student affairs professionals and student leaders alike. The text would be appropriate to use for staff development activities, supervision meetings, and team conversations.

Lennon, D. G. (2007). Business fitness: The power to succeed – your way. Centennial, CO: Glenbridge.


Guest post for TheSABloggers.org: Content Rules (Social Media Book Review)

January 5, 2011

 I have written a new post for The Student Affairs Collaborative regarding a newly published (2011) book titled Content Rules: How to Create Killer Blogs, Podcasts, Videos, Ebooks, Webinars (and More) that Engage Customers and Ignite Your Business by Ann Handley (@MarketingProfs) and C. C. Chapman (@cc_chapman). Although the book is primarily written for entrepeneurs, the 282 page book would definitely benefit student affairs professionals and student leaders alike who are looking to develop and market educational and social program initiatives on campus.

Click HERE to read the entire article.


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